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The Codependent Flip Pattern

There are a few patterns within people and within relationships that lead to a person flipping, that is to suddenly change to the opposite. When you find yourself in this scenario, it is especially painful, disorienting and confusing. For this reason, today, I’m going to reveal one of the most common patterns that causes a person to flip in a relationship. And I’m going to reveal why this pattern spells drastic change for your relationship, no matter what.  

It is tempting to think that the majority of relationships are functional and that dysfunctional relationships are the rarity. But the reverse is actually true. Most relationships between people on earth today fall somewhere on the scale of dysfunction. And the vast majority of the dysfunction in relationships is about how to be in relationships with other people and their best interests, while maintaining a sense of our self and our personal best interests. In dysfunctional family systems, we learn that we cannot trust other people to truly act in our best interests. We have to vie for our own best interests and create adaptations to that family system so that we can feel as safe as possible and so that we can have as much control as possible over getting our own needs met. There are so many different strategies that children learn to employ in order to do this.

Before a child selects these various strategies, they are faced with a choice. 1. They can go through the front door and fight the other members of the family system for their own best interests. Or 2. They can go through the backdoor and manipulate the other members of the family system for their own best interests. And it is here that people develop the relationship strategy of narcissism or codependency. The truth about narcissism and codependency is that they are not personality disorders. They are adaptive relationship strategies. If you want to learn more about this, watch my video titled: The Truth About Narcissism and Codependency. 

People who develop the relationship adaptation style of codependency decide at a subconscious level that because no one is really concerned for their welfare, benefit and best interests, the best way to survive is to get their own needs met by sacrificing parts of themselves so as to conform to other people’s interests and creating an attuned emotional contract with them, whereby their own needs are manipulatively met in exchange for doing so. You will hear pretty much everywhere that codependents place a lower priority on their own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. This is not true. It only looks like that on the outside. The reality is that the preoccupation with the needs of others is their method for getting their own needs met. 

This codependent relational adaptation carries on into adulthood. And it is this relational adaptation that causes them to flip in relationships. The Codependent Flip Pattern is when someone enters into a relationship and creates a false sense of confluence with that person, even if doing so requires things like sacrificing parts of themselves, suppressing personal truths and saying “yes” to what is actually a “no” for them; because they believe that doing so promises to meet their needs. They have all kinds of subconscious (or conscious but unexpressed) expectations. But when their strategy doesn’t work to actually get their needs met, the truth comes out. They drop their strategy. They essentially dupe the other person. The fact that certain things were a sacrifice and certain things were not actually true or a yes for them, comes out. They then begin to flip to a narcissistic style of relating to the other person because they have no frame of reference for any other style of relating. And what’s more than that, they now expect the other person to do for them, what they did for the other person in the beginning. To sacrifice for their best interests, to say “yes” to what is a “no” for them and to suppress parts of themselves. Essentially, to reverse the dynamic by becoming codependent to them. 

So that you can understand this pattern better, here is an example. Bruce has a codependent relational style. He fell in love with a very beautiful woman named Brynn. Bruce was awestruck by Brynn and he saw Brynn as the ticket to the self-esteem he lacked and as a perfect way to feel a sense of belonging and power and emotional closeness and physical intimacy. Brynn preferred him to be with her all the time, so he quit his job to work with her in her company. Brynn had very particular music tastes, so he just let her control the music they listened to. Brynn wanted to buy a house and didn’t trust any man enough to want his name on the mortgage. So, Bruce said yes to paying rent and living with her in her house. Brynn wanted dogs, so Bruce not only said he wanted them too, he surprised her with a puppy. Brynn felt she had met a true friend. Someone who was such a kindred soul, he could be family. But the reality is that Bruce was simply creating a sense of confluence and was only pleasing Brynn with his own subconscious needs in mind. Specifically, Bruce expected Brynn to become his partner on a romantic and sexual level. He expected her to publicly introduce him as her boyfriend. He expected her to eventually make him part owner in her company. Bruce has duped Brynn.

Brynn would go on dates with other men. She would quickly set people straight if they assumed she and Bruce were together as a couple. And one day, she explained that she wanted to transition him out of his role within the company, so someone even more qualified than them both could take it over; to make the company expand. All of this insulted Bruce. And gradually, Bruce started to realize that everything he had given himself up for, wasn’t going to happen. Now, he felt resentful and full of rage. Rather than seeing that he is accountable for saying yes to what was really a no. And to sacrificing what he was not actually ok sacrificing. And for misleading Brynn to think they were compatible where they actually weren’t etc. Bruce decided that Brynn was using him all along. That she only cared about herself. And that he needed to do what was best for him. 

So, out of the blue, Bruce flipped. He told Brynn that he expected a portion of her company, for all the years of dedication he had shown to the business. He told her that he thought it was wrong that she owned a house that he had been paying rent to, when he could have had his own house and been paying down the mortgage on his own asset, rather than hers. He started blasting the music that he loved, but Brynn hated. And he started dropping his responsibilities for the puppy, as a passive aggressive way of asserting the truth that he only said yes to the dogs because of wanting to please her. And when she got upset about it, rather than to immediately give into his zero-sum game demands by sacrificing her best interests for his best interests, saying “yes” to what is a “no” for her and suppressing parts of herself (because in Bruce’s mind, that would be the good and right thing to do), Bruce went on a triangulation tour. He told every person they mutually knew that Brynn was a complete narcissist who had taken him for granted and wronged him and had prevented him from his own success for years. Bruce was convinced that by flipping, he was becoming empowered and he was healing. But what had really happened, is he had swung the pendulum and he had slipped into the Codependent Flip Pattern. To learn more about the pendulum swing pattern, you can watch my video titled: What Is The Pendulum Swing in Healing? Bruce and Brynn ended their relationship after years and years of being the closest people in each other’s lives, as enemies.   

When people find themselves confronted with this pattern, they feel completely bamboozled. The reason being that at first, they don’t understand why the person has suddenly changed, usually into the opposite of what they were. And after they understand the why, they feel bamboozled because what they thought was true about the other person and therefore what they thought they could depend on, was actually false. This pattern causes history to be re-written. Including the narrative about who the person they were in a relationship with is or isn’t. 

The personal truth underneath this pattern is: “I did all this for you, even though I led you to believe I was getting something out of it and even though I said it was a yes for me… It wasn’t. Now, I’m dropping the act. And because I did all that for you, it’s your turn to do X for me.”  

The Codependency Flip Pattern is a form of entrapment in a relationship. It is to coerce someone into an energy exchange that they may never have said yes to if they were presented with the exchange directly. It is to give up the self, with the hidden expectation to get something undisclosed back. And when the other person figures it out, it’s too late for them to say no. In fact, if they say no, there are consequences. 

The reason that people with a codependent relational style do this, is because they have learned that they cannot have themselves and have other people too. So, they must give themselves up in order to get. They feel they can’t put themselves and their needs on the table, and so they must not do so. And instead, entrap the other person into meeting their needs or manipulate the other person in order to get their needs met. 

The very unfortunate truth is that because the Codependent Flip Pattern involves inauthenticity from the get go, the relationship is changing no matter what you do. It is never going back to what it was. What it was, wasn’t real. This is very hard to accept if you are on the other side of this pattern, most especially because people with a codependent relational style have become so good at perceiving other people’s needs, that they put up an act that is so wanted and needed by you, that it will feel like letting go of the very thing you were always desperately looking for. But having had it, was an illusion. 

Codependency in and of itself, is an extremely painful relational strategy. And the Codependent Flip Pattern is one of the most painful patterns that someone can experience in a relationship. It is a pattern that destroys trust in a way that drastically effects a person’s belief in their own ability to discern, as well as their trust regarding all future relationships. If you notice that you fall to the codependent side of the spectrum, it’s important to know that the only reliable way to not fall into this pattern, is to get into a relationship with the actual truth of who you are. To say no when something is a no for you. To not sacrifice what is important to you. To not feign compatibility where there is incompatibility and to master the practice of win-wins in a relationship. It sounds so easy, but the reality is that this will not be easy because it is the opposite of the way you learned to engage in relationships and for good reason. 

If you realize that you have fallen into this pattern, the way out of it, is to admit that you fell into this pattern and to take radical accountability for it. Often, this means taking responsibility for cleaning up the emotional and even practical mess that was created by falling into this pattern. It is bad enough for the other person to have been duped. They don’t deserve to be made the bad guy on top of it, because you feel like you lost yourself in the relationship and because your unexpressed needs weren’t met. The next step is to let go of your unexpressed expectations. They will never be met, because you never gave the other person the chance to consciously agree to them. And from there, if the other person wants to associate with you, rather than end the relationship all together, you need to re-negotiate a new kind of relationship from the ground up. I mean completely from scratch, based on what is real and based on the actual points of compatibility between you and them.

I’m going to say it again, the hardest thing to accept about the Codependent Flip Pattern is that what you thought was true for the other person, wasn’t actually true for them. And the relationship you thought you had with them; you didn’t actually have. And because of this, the relationship you have with them, is changing no matter what. You are starting over from scratch with getting to know who they really are and with a totally different relationship. 


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